Rosé Champagne risotto with deep-fried blood orange

We came up with this dish for an event we did with Nyetimber. Rosé champagne creates a very pretty -coloured risotto and gives it a gentle fruitiness that works beautifully with the deep-fried blood orange. This is a great starter, and is exactly what you want if you're doing a dinner party as it's more than happy to sit until you’re ready to serve it.

Rosé Champagne risotto with deep-fried blood orange

Rosé Champagne risotto with deep-fried blood orange

Serves 4-6 as a starter

150g butter
1 large white onion, finely chopped
½ fennel bulb, tough outer layer removed, rest finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
450g carnaroli rice
250ml Nyetimber Rosé (a pink cava or Champagne would also work well)
1.25-1.75 litres hot vegetable stock
125g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to decorate
Deep-fried blood orange
1 blood orange
75g plain flour
Sparkling water
Vegetable oil, to fry

To make the risotto, melt half the butter in a heavy-based pan over a medium-low heat and add the onion, fennel, celery, carrot and a pinch of salt. Sweat for 15 minutes until soft but not coloured. Turn the heat up a little, add the rice and stir well so that every grain is covered in butter and the rice begins to turn translucent.

 Pour in the sparkling wine and leave to simmer, stirring constantly, until it reduces by half. Start adding the stock, a big ladleful at a time, stirring well and making sure each ladleful is absorbed before adding the next. The more you stir it, the creamier you will find it becomes. Once the risotto is just al dente (this should take about 15-20 minutes), take off the heat and stir in the remaining butter and the Parmesan. Check and adjust the seasoning and add a little more liquid if it is too thick. Cover with a lid and keep warm while you prepare the orange.

Using a very sharp knife, cut the orange in half, then slice into very thin half moons. Place the flour and pinch of salt in a bowl and slowly whisk in a little sparkling water until it has the consistency of double cream (this batter is a winner for deep-frying EVERYTHING).

Pour the vegetable oil into a heavy-bottomed pan to a depth of about 5cm and heat it to about 180C – you can test the temperature by dropping in a bit of bread; if it turns golden in about 30 seconds, then the oil is the right temperature. Dip the orange slices in the batter and shake off any excess. Very carefully lower into the hot oil and fry, turning over once, until they begin to crisp up but are not too coloured. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain briefly on kitchen paper, then sit a few slices on top of the risotto and sprinkle with a little extra Parmesan before serving.